Posted by: atowhee | June 28, 2015


A small group of birding friends gathered this morning and we went to North Mountain Park long after the dawn chorus.  The heat and humidity had settled in.  But we encountered families of Western Wood-Pewees, young Bullock’s Orioles, young Lesser Goldfinches and Robins carrying food to a nest unseen.  Later at Ashland Pond there were several ducklings both of Mallard and Wood persuasion, and a fuzzy young fledgling Scrub-Jay.  And this seems to be a high point for the local dragonfly population. D-FLYY DMSLBIGFROGThe park gardeners (volunteers) have planted many milkweed plants.  We did see a single monarch butterfly among the many swallowtails. MILKWEEDThe local sapsucker was back on his drumming post in front of our house this morning…early. RB DRUMMR RB DRUMMR2 RB DRUMMR3 RB DRUMMR4 SOOTFLY ST FLTTR ST FLTTR2This swallowtail was one of many enjoying the California buckeye trees in bloom at North Mountain. ST FLTTR3 ST FLWR1 ST FLWR2 ST FLWR3 ST FLWR4North Mountain Park, Jackson, Oregon.   Jun 28, 2015 9:45 AM – 11:15 AM.  25 species

Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)  2
Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias)  1
Osprey (Pandion haliaetus)  2
Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon) (Columba livia (Feral Pigeon))  1
Eurasian Collared-Dove (Streptopelia decaocto)  X
Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura)  1
Anna’s Hummingbird (Calypte anna)  1
Acorn Woodpecker (Melanerpes formicivorus)  1
Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus)  1
Western Wood-Pewee (Contopus sordidulus)  3
Western Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma californica)  4
American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)  X
Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor)  6
Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica)  1
Bushtit (Psaltriparus minimus)  1
American Robin (Turdus migratorius)  X
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)  X
Yellow-breasted Chat (Icteria virens)  2
Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus)  1
Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia)  X
Black-headed Grosbeak (Pheucticus melanocephalus)  3
Brewer’s Blackbird (Euphagus cyanocephalus)  X
Bullock’s Oriole (Icterus bullockii)  3
House Finch (Haemorhous mexicanus)  1
Lesser Goldfinch (Spinus psaltria)  12

Posted by: atowhee | June 27, 2015


Early one recent morning I was awakened by the insistent paradiddle of a sapsucker playing our local hollow utility pole.  Other local woodies simply drill away like wooden machine guns, but the Red-breasted Sapsucker has some variation in his tapping, a musical cadence.RBS-HANGS RBS-POLL RBS-POLL2There are mnay young Steller’s Jays about in our garden now, newly fledged and naive.  Instead of simply “Steller’s J” they should be denoted as “Steller’s JR” for junior.

They act much like 12 year old humans.  They seem to be physically fairly mature but they are totally baffled by the workings of the universe.

This morning one cornered itself on our porch then flew into a window in an unnecessary panic as I drew near.  Finally he bounced off the glass and flapped off into a nearby bush, certain he had cleverly averted a sudden death.  The mature jays recognize me as a food source and barely twitch as I walk, or sit on the fence and loudly criticize my paltry offerings which never satisfy their boundless greed.  Wall Streeters one and all, those jays.


Some humans pretend to believe an adage of “never apologize, never explain.”  In Jayworld that adage is clearly understood to be “never apologize, always exclaim.”  And thus they do.  Their peanut announcement each day is nearly as raucous as their “Raven alert!” screams were yesterday.


Posted by: atowhee | June 26, 2015


I will be signing copies of Great Gray Owl of California, Oregon and Washington at Northwest Nature in Ashland. That is First Friday when boutiques and galleries stay open later. I will be at Northwest Nature starting at 5pm.
Copies of the book will be on sale at the Seattle Audubon Nature Shop there. The books are en route right now, could arrive before the July 4th weekend.
I will be making GGO presentations and selling copies of the book at the Corvallis and Lane County Audubon Society meetings in September.ggo cover
Copies of the book can also be ordered directly from me or my co-author Peter J. Thiemann whose great photos can be seen on his flickr site.

Posted by: atowhee | June 22, 2015


acwo on signAcron Woodpecker stationed on dump station sign.   Two black birdsa:one a Red-wing, the other a phoebe. BLACK TWICEOsprey on nest. OSPLATFORM TV BAK TV TWO TVBAK2Shorebirds: Killder and TV.TV-KILL (1280x960)Sapsucker at great drumming pole provied by Ashland electric dept. redb1 redb2rbs awayBelow: Western Kingbird on the hunt. weki abuv

Posted by: atowhee | June 22, 2015


“The [Acorn] Woodpecker is our native aristocrat. He is unruffled by the operations of the human plebs in whatever disguise. Digger Indians, Don Joses, or Doctors of Philosophy are all the same to him. Wigwams, haciendas, or university halls, what matter such frivolities, if only one may go calmly on with the main business of life, which is indubitably the hoarding of acorns.”

–William Leon Dawson, 1923

Yesterday at Emigrant Lake near Ashland I encountered a small granery used by Acorn Woodpeckers.  It is a section of dead wood in an otherwise healthy white oak.  The wood is a small section where a limb was once torn off by storm or other accident.  In this area the woodpeckers had stored more than one acorn in some of the holes, one hole contained three.  Using our fingers, another birder and I tried to pry the acorns out of their slots but failed.  We would have needed a knife blade or screwdriver to succeed.grnry1 grnry2 grnry3The Birds of North America Online account of this species makes no mention of multiple acorns in a single slot.  It does say that a colony of ACWO would need more than a century to make the 50,000 holes reported in some colonies.  A single hole is rarely made in a single work session, and in hard oak it make take numerous drill team applications.  In the upper image you can see some new holes that been initiated.

Posted by: atowhee | June 20, 2015


Yet more pictures of the birds and mammals from eastern Oregon. Best of all, for the first time, I saw Black Terns sitting on the water, then taking off.  As they flash their wings in bright sun the color can change from silver to dark gray to black.   bt in sage BT IN WATR (1280x960) BT TAKE-OFF (1280x960) BT TAKE-OFF2 (1280x960) BT TAKE-OFF3 (1280x960) BT TAKE-OFF4 (1280x960) BT TAKE-OFF5 (1280x960) BT TAKE-OFF6 (1280x960) BT TAKE-OFF67 (1280x960)Nighthawk in daytime, sleepinh on fence at Field Station: CONI FACING (1280x960) EAKI CHEST (1280x960)Eastern Kingbird above, Loggerhead on wire. lhs on wireMarsh Wren at Buena Vista Ponds. MAWR ON LEAF (1280x960) mgpiMagpie above, Nuttall’s cottontail below. nut-cotbatt (1280x960)Bobolink male: BOB EO (1280x960) BOB FO (1280x960)batt (1280x960)The bat was believed to be a silver-haired, found hiding behind a flap of wood at Malheur Headquarters.

Posted by: atowhee | June 20, 2015


The Ashland newspaper today ran a piece on the Great Gray Owl book that Peter Thiemann and I put together. You can click here for link to that piece.

It even includes a photo of the not-so-great gray birder.

Posted by: atowhee | June 18, 2015


A couple of philanthropists have purchased a defunct campground at Lake of the Woods.  It was a girl scout camp dating back before WW2.  Decrepit and too expensive for the scouts to fix, it was sold.  The new owners hope to replace the old structures and give it to the Ashland YMCA.  I was invited to look around to see what birds were there.  The parcel contains shoreline, maturing second growth forest and some dense willow and grass marshy margin along the shallow end of the lake.  I hope to revisit early next month.

HAWO2 (1280x960) HAWO-LO ECHO (1280x960) WETA MALE (1280x960)

Low Echo Campground, Klamath, Oregon, US.  The elevation is over 5000 feet.  Lake of the Woods is a natural lake, not a reservoir.
Jun 18, 2015 3:30 PM – 4:15 PM.  10 species

Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)  X
American White Pelican (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos)  3
Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura)  1
Red-breasted Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus ruber)  1
Hairy Woodpecker (Picoides villosus)  2
Steller’s Jay (Cyanocitta stelleri)  1
Townsend’s Solitaire (Myadestes townsendi)  1
American Robin (Turdus migratorius)  2
Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia)  1
Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)  X

Posted by: atowhee | June 17, 2015


BE AT NST (1280x960)Bald Eagle on nest, Westside Road, Klamath County.  Below: Burrowing Owl along Hwy 205 in Harney County. buro1 collier flwr LST CHPMNKRed-breasted Saopsucker with beak full of insects, Collier State Park, Klamath County. RBSAP+BUGS snipost1Wilson’s Snipe above, Tree Swallow in nest box. trsw box wbn-arriv wbn-in wbn-llookAbove: White-breasted Nuthatch at nest hole, Wocus Bay, Klamath County.  Below: Kingbird in Harney County where they are abundant. weki wire wm-sap in wm-sap wm-sap2Williamson’s Sapsucker at nest hole, Wocus Bay.

Posted by: atowhee | June 16, 2015


For those of you interested in Andy Huber’sexperiences helping a widowed female Great Gray Owl raise her five young, here’s an update:

Greetings all,
Several have asked about the great gray family here, so I’m happy to give an update.
We had an exciting event on Saturday evening, June 13.  We were watching the four fledglings practicing their hunting techniques…mimicking mom.  And we saw the oldest one actually catch a wild rodent.  That chick had hatched on approximately April first, so I’m estimating it is about 74 days old (photo #2).  I’m attaching a few more chick photos for perspective.
I like to feed the mother a few mice both early in the morning, and late in the evening, to reduce overheating.  Even then, while carrying rodents to the fledglings, she gets quite warm. She spreads and lowers her wings away from her body, breathes rapidly, and her gular (throat) flutters (photo # 4).”
The family is now usually located in dense forest, about 100 yards either north or west of the old nest site.  It is cooler there, but photographs are a little more challenging.  They change sites about every two days.
Thanks again, to all of you who have shared in the experience and helped make it possible.”
1. Mother Great Gray intent 6-16-15 3117 IMG_6462 2. Oldest fledgling approx 75 days  6-14-15 3126 IMG_6403 3. Probable last chick approx 61 days  6-14-15 2831 IMG_6336 4. Mother GGO hot 6-14-16 2287 IMG_6422 5. Fledgling on branch 6-14-15 2446 IMG_6161 6. Fledgling on larch 2593 6-14-15 IMG_6262 7. Fledgling 4131 6-14-15 Huber estimates the youngest owlet is just over 60 days old.
Huber’s property is near La Grande in eastern Oregon and he continues to trap live mammals for the family.

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